Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stuffing stocking for the Elders. We got to play Santa AGAIN!

Half of the Stockings hung for them to see when they came in.

Second half of the stockings

Elders sorting through stockings

Happy Elder Tuaitanu and Elder Mitton

Elder Kuss with his stocking
How wonderful it has been to spend the Holiday Season in Chuuk, involved in the Lord’s work. Hearing the old, familiar Christmas songs in Chuukese was great.
With no children living with us and no grandchildren close by, it seemed we would not have the opportunity to play “Santa” this year. But our ten children in the States sent Christmas stockings and lots and lots of goodies and gifts to stuff them with so each Elder in Chuuk could receive a “Surprise Stocking”. We had so much fun going through all the gifts and treats our children sent and then dividing them up into the stockings.
Christmas morning at 8:25 am, the Missionaries arrived. They thought they were coming over just for a nice Christmas breakfast. But we had 10 filled stockings hanging, with their names on them. We were ready to get their reactions recorded with cameras. It was so much fun to watch their faces as they looked at the stockings, and then realized that THEIR names were on them! In about 30 seconds flat they went from 10 missionaries, to 10 happy kids. They dug through their stockings, big grins on their faces. Lots of laughs and comparing and “Wow! Look at this!” all around. Also we heard, “Yes! I NEEDED socks!” and “Hey! I got a new tie!” We heard one Elder ask another, “What did you get?” And the answer: “Just about everything I wanted.”
So, we did get to play Santa, and we really appreciate our children helping us do that. The Elders enjoyed their Christmas breakfast and then dutifully wrote thank-yous to their benefactors.
These Elders work so very hard and deal daily with disappointments and discouragement and exhaustion, it was so nice to see them, just for a few minutes, be happy and carefree and giddy with joy. It made our Holiday just wonderful.
So, now it is New Year’s Eve. We have been warned that things get pretty crazy here on New Year’s Eve, so we will stay in our apt and stay away from the wild and crazy celebrations. It is fun to see these people enjoy the Holidays. The Chuukese are a very happy people. They laugh a lot. They are friendly. We are enjoying being in Chuuk.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This picture is of a 2 branch gathering for convert baptism in each branch. This happened on Saturday which was our Hump Day or the day that is the half way mark in our mission. What a wonderful way to celebrate our Hump Day.

Today, Sunday, was the first day of the second half of our mission here in the Micronesia Guam mission, serving in Chuuk. So we hit the ground running this morning. We left early to drive the 5 miles to the Wichap Branch, it is about 5 miles from here and takes almost an hour to drive it. But this morning there wasn't as much traffic so we drove it in about 50 minutes. We did some Seminary work before Church started and got 3 more students registered for Seminary. We were able to pick up Mark Kunuseni's Attendance Roll as he was not able to attend our inservice meeting so we didn't have it when we had to send the reports in. Now we will send his report to Guam.

Sacrament Meeting started pretty much on time. There were only 4 adults, 1 teenage boy and one about 10 and a couple of little kids plus the two full time Elders, Ulmer and Cherrington, and Sister Duncan and I. So you can see the missionaries really filled the ranks. Mark Kunuseni was the only speaker in Sacrament Meeting and spoke for 45 minutes all in Chuukese.

We showed part of the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference as the Sunday School lesson. They can not watch the DVDs because they have no electricity in the Chapel. So we used the Laptop and the internal battery to play it. They do have General Conference with a Chuukese translation dubbed over the speakers, and it thrilled me that the good people in Wichap voted right along with the others to sustain the Prophet and other leaders.

We left after Sunday School because we had to show a Seminary DVD in the Mechitiw Branch. We had to drive the hour back to our apartment and then 10 minutes on past our apartment to Mechitiw. We stopped at the apartment to pick up the DVD and charge the battery some in my computer. They were just finishing up with the Priesthood and Relief Society meetings when we arrived. We began setting up for a Seminary Class. They are using Home Study Seminary classes and only meet once a week because of the long distances the kids have to walk late at night and the Teacher is attending college every day during the week. They have no electircity in the Church either so they can't see by the time Merien Sisra, the teacher, gets home from School, so they just meet once a week.

That was a real success and we enjoyed visiting after the class. We learned more Chuukese words and corrected some of the things we were saying wrong. We helped fold up all the chairs and lock up the building after Seminary.

Then we came home and ate lunch about 2 PM. We read the site and now I will post about our day. We really feel like we put in a good day so far for the first day of the last half of our mission.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The photo is of people eating lunch at District Conference.

Well, we just checked our blog and saw it has been over a month since we posted anything. We have been very busy, but that is not the excuse I will use. Our excuse is that we each want the other to do the write up. So we wait, and wait.
I’ll first tell a bit about our District Conference. On Saturday, Sue helped teach the sisters and I attended the Priesthood Session in the 1 PM session of District Conference. The talks and training were on Fast Offerings and the role of the Branch President and Relief Society President.
After that session, we each got a pre-made plastic container with rice, a hotdog and a small chunk of chicken along with a can of soda pop that was purchased by the District. We attended the Adult Session from 4 to 6 PM. They had head phones for the English speakers and Elder Wells translated what the Chuukese were saying in their talks. It was the first time I got concepts from Chuukese speakers, (but I was getting it in English). I took one ear phone off so I could hear the Chuukese words and try to associate them together. Sister Marsine Joseph spoke on what they were doing to raise a righteous family. Most of the things she mentioned were things that Sister Duncan and she talked about while they were doing Genealogy; like FHE, Family Prayers, Scripture Study, etc.
We were invited to attend the Family Home Evening with the Elders in the evening. Elder Wells conducted and we had an opening song in English and a prayer. Then we had a scripture by Elder South about the Lord using the weak things of the world to save souls. President Dowdle spoke of Joseph Smith not telling all he knew. Some things he knew were not published; like the 110th section of the D&C, till after the Saints were in Salt Lake Valley.
Then Elder Wells had a closing hymn and prayer again in English and turned the time over to Sister Duncan and me for the Scripture Chase. We used all 4 years of Seminary Scripture Mastery. We gave out mini marshmallows, M&Ms, raisins, and small candies to those that got it in time. It was fun and I was surprised at how well they all did and how much they enjoyed it.
Next we played a game that our family has loved for years and years. We call it The Dice Game. We had asked each of the Elders to bring some kind of treat. We put them out on the floor in the middle of the circle and used 3 dice. Each die is started at the same time in a different spot around the circle. Sue set the timer for 4 minutes and every time an Elder rolled a 6 or a 1 he got to trade his treat for one he wanted that someone else had. It got very wild; just like it did at home for our kids. But here they had to get up and walk to exchange treats so there were Elders in the middle of the circle all the time. At one point I went to exchange for the Nutter Butters and before I got back to my chair Elder Ako exchanged with me. At the end it was so loud that I never heard the alarm go off. Sue had to shout that it was over. President Dowdle ended up with the Nutter Butters and did a victory dance. The Elders loved it. It was a great night and a lot of fun for the Elders as well.
We attended Sunday Session of District Conference and Elder Sorensen translated for us over the head sets; we understood what the Chuukese were saying. It was wonderful and I really appreciated it. Bill Davis, Sister Dowdle and Pres. Dowdle were the closing speakers. All of the talks were very inspiring.
We ate with them again; rice, chunk of chicken and a hot dog. We stayed and visited till 1:30 when the Youth Meeting started. Sister Dowdle talked about skiing and they have no word in Chuukese for ‘snow’ so they called it ‘ice’. The other talks to the Youth were just excellent. As more and more of these youth grasp the concepts of the Church, they will be great leaders in the future. We love these youth. Most of them are great young people, especially the ones that attend their meetings and they really want to live their lives as the Church teaches.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with 12 Elders here at the apartment with us for a great meal of Turkey and all the trimming. We baked a 23 pound bird in a roaster bag in a high sided cookie sheet this year. We had never done that before. Sister Duncan made 5 different kinds of pies so that they could all have something that really appealed to them. We had apple, banana with native bananas in it, Cherry-O-Cream Cheese, Chocolate Cream, and a Jell-O no bake Cream Cheese. The Elders had all they wanted to eat and then some.
We played some LDS games while the meal settled and before we ate pie. We played Scripture Chasing, Scattergories (using such things as names in the Old Testament, modern day prophets, women in the scriptures, etc), and Zion (like Seek), and "Name that Hymn". It was a lot of fun.
Some of our missionaries had never had pie, or turkey. So it was new for them. The most popular pies were apple, banana cream (I made that one) and choc cream. I’ll say this, “They are good eaters!” No one complained about anything. This time we made assignments for the clean up and everyone helped. They were also doing laundry down stairs in the Laundromat as well.
Something you might find interesting is that Sue reads to us right now from the book True to the Faith and Ensign with the General Conference talks in it, just before we go to bed. I am so tired by the time we go to bed I go to sleep many times. The other night was no exception; I fell asleep. But it was my turn to be the spokesman for our Couple’s Prayer. I really struggled. My mind would just go to sleep right in the middle of a sentence while I was trying to translate from English to Chuukese. When I would ‘come to’ I couldn’t even remember what I was trying to say in Chuukese. So I just switched and started new sentences. Sister Duncan was very patient with me.
Oh, we are coming up on our half way mark on the 12th of December. Time has just flown by. When we are this busy, we are always trying to get more done in a day and so the days just fly by. When I was a young missionary in Texas, we always talked about the second half of a mission went faster then the first half. It that is the case again, we better hurry because we have a lot to do before we complete this mission.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In anticipation of leaving early in the morning, I was awake in every hour of the night. I was awake when the clock changed to 4:00 AM and I woke Sue. We arose, had Individual Prayers, prepared for the day, ate cold cereal and left the house at 4:35 AM. We drove to the Mwan boat dock where the new Mwan Chapel is being built and Herman Walter was already there. He opened the gate for us. We woke S-Mate Otup and Bricker Walter, the boat helper; they were sleeping on the cement sea wall and even the flash light in their faces didn’t wake them. Herman had to speak to them to wake them. Bricker, the new helper got the shuttle boat close to shore for us and we got in. He polled us all out to the missionary boat. We used flashlights. It was still pitch dark when we pulled away. I took lots of pictures to see what the camera could record as the sun finally rose.
The water was like glass, not even enough ripples to see where the reefs were, so Herman slowed down to see better. We watched the sun come up as we arrived at Uman. We walked to the church and Samper Billy was already there. We attended his class. He had 3 students show up. KJan Jack was the seminary teacher last year and he is in the class as a student this year. He seemed very happy to be there.
Brother Billy had put up on the board 2 Nephi 25:30 to study today. But the Chuukese Book of Mormon does not have that part of the Book of Mormon translated. He asked if we were going to teach and we said he could and we might do a Scripture Mastery activity after he was done. So he went to the next chapter that was translated; chapter 29. He had us all take turns reading some verses and then he would talk a while in between them. I read 2 long verses and was pleased I did as well as I did. It was a good class. I was so glad he recovered from what he had put on the board and still taught a good lesson.
He turned it to us and Sister Duncan wrote the 6 scripture references on the left side of the brownboard and the clues mixed up on the right and had the students come up one at a time to connect them correctly. Then she told the students to remember all 6 of them and we did another Scripture Mastery game where 2 of them come up and write the reference on the board after Sister Duncan gave them clues in Chuukese. The first one to get it right gets a ‘high-5’ I did the erasing of the board. The last one she did was having us all stand in a circle and reciting the scripture from slips of paper she had typed out in Chuukese. I think they liked the ones at the brownboard better.
We turned it back to Samper Billy and he picked the closing song and called on KJan Jack to offer the Closing Prayer. They all shook our hands and left when they were ready. We gathered our things and thanked Samper for teaching. He seemed pleased.
We walked back to the boat dock and Herman was ready for us. We had an exceptionally smooth ride home. Back on Weno, we bought him 20 gallons of gas at a cost of $79.00 and took it back to them. That is what it cost us for the boat to take us out to the Uman Island. We will get that reimbursed to us next month when we turn in the receipts. Then we came straight home. I down loaded the pictures. Sue peeled and we ate 2 kiwi; YES, Kiwi here on Chuuk. They were both quite tart but we ate them anyway. We deleted quite a few of the pictures that were too dark and enjoyed looking at the rest. But it was a very successful morning and we got back to our apartment about 9 AM. We had already put in 4.5 hours of S&I work and really enjoyed it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here is the report of a great day in the life of the Duncan Missionaries. We did our Book of Mormon studies. Sue cooked Oatmeal for breakfast because it seems to last longer when we go on the ocean. I called the Zone Leaders and they said the Uman Elders hadn’t called in yet, but they said Herman Walter told them yesterday he needed at least 10 gallons of gas to make the trip to Paata and Romanum. We had just been killing time so we hustled then. We drove to Herman’s across from the New Chapel site, picked up 6 of their 5 gallon jugs for gas and drove back to town to get them filled; $120. Then we drove back to Mwan again. We had asked to leave at 9 so we would get away by 9:30. We climbed in the little boat to take us out to the Missionary boat actually before 9:30. They had to put the 30 gallons of gas in the Missionary boat and unhook it from its mooring ropes. We started moving out to sea at 9:40 so we were not that far behind.

The ocean was as smooth as I have ever seen it. It had a glass like quality. So Esmei ran the boat at full speed till we got fairly close to Paata. Then a heavy rain storm descended on us. They couldn’t see a thing because the storm blotted out all the islands. He cut the motors back till we were just drifting. They opened a center window in the front and tried to wash the windshield, but that didn’t work and the rain came in the window and just drenched the new boat helper. It was amazing how much water was coming down. Eventually it lightened up and we could see again. We resumed our journey. It only took us 40 minutes to reach Paata, even with the rain delay. We had planned an hour. In rougher seas it would have taken the hour.

They put us off at the dock and we told them we should be back by 1:15 or 1:30. This was only our second time to Paata by way of the dock. The Elders had led us in once before, but everything was so new then, we were a bit concerned that we might not find our way through the housing. But we did fine.

The trail had water running down it from the heavy rain storm, so walking was a bit difficult. We were early so we took our time. We found new ways around some of the ‘lakes’ in the trail and it was a good hike. It took us about 22 minutes to hike from the dock to the Mormon Church on Paata.

President Sam Roby was at the Church when we arrived. We sat in the shade outside the Chapel to just talked awhile. He gave us each a green coconut to drink. Then I asked if we could go inside. We went to his office and had prayer. We went through what Seminary needs to be called Seminary. Then we asked if he wanted to do that. He said he did. We were interrupted by the Chief of this village coming to meet us. We had some light talk with him with Sam translating for us. Then The Cheif just sat and listened to us teach Sam about Seminary in English. President Roby's English is pretty good.

The kids were gathering as President Roby had told them we would show a video. So we went in the chapel and set up to show the 4th video on agency. Sue taught the first part in Chuukese and I showed the video. Then she did the closing. Sam restated some of it now and then to help the students understand. The Chief of the village stayed to watch the Video and actually gave the closing prayer.

They brought in Fried Tapioca and cooked banana’s covered in coconut milk for lunch. He gave us another coconut to drink. We told him we would share one. I thought the food was wonderful. We had brought granola bars to eat, but didn’t need them now.

We hiked back to the boat and arrived about 1:10 which was early. But they were ready for us and we got on the boat. The water was still just like glass. It was a very smooth ride to the Romanum Island. We had to wait a while for the Elders to come back from a service project. Then we did their Apartment Inspection. Their water pump is broken and said they didn’t have water to clean.

We waited for Tasiana Wolbert to come. I took some pictures and got a movie of Elder South giving Elder Ako a bucket shower. South just climbed up on the water tanks got a 5 gallon bucket of water and started pouring it over Elder Ako who was standing in just a pair of knee length shorts.

Sister Wolbert said her class wasn’t starting until 4 or 4:30. We had our meeting with her alone, had prayer and just discussed her concerns. She asked that we play the 2nd Video and do a Scripture Mastery Activity for her today. She started the class about 4:10 and had 5 or 6 seminary kids and 10 to 15 younger ones attend the class. I showed the video and stopped and started it so she could read the Chuukese translation. We lost the attention of the younger ones while she was reading the translation. But it turned out okay in the end.

Then Sue did a Scripture Mastery Activity. She had written the first 6 scripture references on the left of the greenboard and wrote the content in a different order on the right. She had the students come up one at a time and draw a line to the right one. It was slow, but they seemed to enjoy it. We gave them a ‘high 5’ when they got it right. Then she had 2 of them stand back in the room and she would start to read a scripture and they would come up and write the reference on the greenboard. They were somewhat hesitant, but we got all to participate, in fact, Tasiana did one also. It was fun and the kids laughed a lot. We had a closing prayer about 5 and helped clean up. We packed our things and headed out.

Esmei and the boat crew had been playing basketball with other Romanum men and boys. They had been quite noisy, but we ignored them during the class. They got the boat ready and we headed for home. The water was so glassy you could see individual palm trees in the reflection on the water as we slipped away. The compass said we were going due east and the sun was going down directly behind us. As we pulled up to the dock the sun was just half way down on the edge of the ocean. It was beautiful. What a beautiful place to live. We felt so good with what we got accomplished today.

We felt it was a very successfull day. It makes all the work we put into this calling worthwhile. We love the Lord and what He has called us to do here on the Islands of Chuuk. We truly pray that we touched hearts and built testimonies today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I wanted to share something that we have done here on Chuuk for the Elders.

We fed 14 Elders a large meal of buscuits and sausage gravy, peas and carrots, Jell-O and lemon squares for dessert. They ate all they wanted and seemed to really enjoy it. But I wanted to take the time to explain something we gave out after the meal.

As we have mentioned, we just can not get many of the things we usually use for cooking. The Elders live a lot on Spam, Rice and Top Ramen. So while we were shopping, we started writing down 'what we could get where' here on Chuuk. We made a list of all the items that would be good for cooking or making meals and then which stores carried them at one time or another. It became a large 2 page list.

Sue started writing up recipes that only calls for things that can be found here on Chuuk. She put together a list of 52 recipes that the Elders can cook up even if they have only a one burner stove. It ranges from breads through meals, salads, and desserts. She wanted to make sure they could cook what ever was in the cookbook so we even practiced cooking cookies in a frying pan so they could make home-made cookies if they wanted to. The recipes tell them how to do it. (We of course had to eat up all the practice runs.) Sue came up with the name of CHUUK CHOW and we printed that on a nice front cover with our names and the date. We stapled it together with a nice back on it and now they have no excuse for eating poorly.

Then we presented a copy to each Set of Elders at the meal we seved on Tuesday. We told them it was to stay in the apartment if they were transfered. It was a tremendous hit. They read through many of the recipes and said, "I can make that!" or "I can't wait to try this!" She is now the Cook Queen of the Chuuk Islands.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We inviteed these Elders to have a meal with us after their Distrist Meeting which was held in our apartment. They love to eat with us and Sister Duncan is a great cook. We even served them Cream Cheese Pie for dessert. The Zone leaders had brought back Graham Crackers and Cream Cheese from Guam when they came back from some training there. We had blueberry and strawberry toppings to go on it and gave them a quarter of a pie each. Thay had all they wanted and more. It was a nice time for us all and we got this shot of them before they left. They are great missionaries and we love and respect them all. It is good to see them moving the work along so well. Right now the Chuuk Zone is leading the mission in converts. The coverts come into the Church wanting to learn and progress and some of them are absolutely the best. I even got to speak in Chuukese at one of the the baptisms. That made me feel pretty good.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well, here it is August 13. The summer is flying by! We are FINALLY starting to do the orientations for the new Seminary and Institute teachers. Yesterday we went out to Romanum and Paata islands to train new teachers. We met with the Romanum teacher and had a good orientation with her. But the Paata teacher is having some difficulties now and did not think he would teach this coming year, so we did not do the orientation. We were soooo disappointed, as we were really hoping to get those two done in one trip.
We are still trying to figure out ways to help the non-English-speaking teachers teach the Book of Mormon this year. They have only selections from the Book of Mormon in Chuukese. Less than half of the Book of Mormon has been translated into Chuukese. So, it is our responsibility to help them do the best they can with the limited scriptures that they have.
We are doing well and enjoying our work here. We have learned about 700 words in Chuukese, so we can communicate a little bit. Sure wish we could speak Chuukese fluently now! We need to find a tutor to help us.
Sister Duncan has undertaken a project to create an English-to-Chuukese dictionary for couple missionaries. So far, she has over 2000 words in it….all words that will be useful for couple missionaries to know, and NO words about sea spirits, fishing, canoes, traditional gods, warfare, coconuts, or breadfruit!
We just completed teaching the Temple Preparation classes and Sister Duncan is working with one of the families to get their genealogy ready to go to the temple. We have had to use our computer as the only one in all the branches is down right now. The picture posted is Sister Duncan helping Marsine Joseph learn the computer and enter her family on new.familysearch.
Our daughter was married in the Bountiful Temple on August 4th. The kids have posted lots of pictures of the happy bride and groom, so we almost feel like we were there!
Seminary and Institute will begin on September 1st, so we are busy trying to get every teacher in every branch ready to start. With few phones, 4 branches on outer islands, and the language problem, it is a challenge! But we are up to it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A great weekend!

This is our past weekend.
Friday, we left about 12 and drove to the boat dock. I took some more pictures of the building site.
We left for Uman about 1:15 PM. The ocean was about 3 foot swells so Herman Walter ran slower. We were loaded heavy anyway; with Elder Mitton’s luggage, food for both sets of Elders, 4 Elders, Sue and I and the two that take care of the boat. We carried their groceries to their apartment and that is a long walk; about half a mile. The plastic bags really cut into our hands. One of the bags I was carrying spit out the bottom from the weight of the cans. I had to put them in other bags I was carrying and hope they would hold the added weight. Sue’s finger next to her pinky was numb for the rest of the day. Sue suggested that I take some pictures of Elder Mitton and Tuaitanu and we would send them to his mom. Sue did the Apartment Check and we went back to the boat.
We took Elders Wood and South to Tonoas and helped carry all their things as well: about ¾ of a mile. I got a heavy box and cans of Butane this time so I carried it on my head. I had a bag in the other hand, but along the way some kids came and carried my bag. I took Sue’s bag and another kid carried that later. Sue was carrying a case of Top Ramem. This time she got a fairly light load. We did the apt check. They said that the batteries that hold the solar electricity will sometimes run out in the middle of the night and they would like us to get them a couple more batteries. Just like I could go down town and buy a couple. We put it on the list for Mission President, President Dowdle to consider. None of the Elders have a hot water heater. They just get water off the room piped to holding tanks and then piped back into the house and they shower in what ever temp the water is. On hot sweaty days if they have lots of water they may shower twice. Then Sister Duncan and I walked back to the dock.
It was a fairly short ride back from Tonoas and we missed going through any of the rain storms. We saw them all around us, but were never ‘in’ one.
We came home and washed our hands well because we had shaken hands with many people.
Saturday, we gathered our things and got ready for another day at sea.
We delivered some papers to President Wainis about the New Church Building. Then we left about 10 on the big boat for Romanum. Again we helped carry supplies to the apartment. It was not as long a walk maybe only a hundred yards and I made Sue carry less. I made two trips. We had Elder Sears’ luggage because he has just been transferred there. We did an inspection of their apartment and took some pictures of the newly completed meeting house there. We loaded up and went to Paata. This was our first time to go to Paata.
President Sam Roby and his family were just coming home from Weno when we arrived. So he took his family in and then came back and got us. They have a long tunnel through the Mangrove trees to get to the chapel. I took pictures. The tide was out and with 6 of us in the boat we drug bottom a lot and they had a very hard time getting us up to the little boat dock. The teenage boy, Erlast Este (Es-tee) was really sweating to pole us in. Sometimes the pole would go 2 or 3 feet down in to the mud before he hit something solid. President Roby took off his flip flop and put a leg over the side and pushed in the mud to help. It also took some weight out of the boat. Then we walked up a very steep trail to his house. The ladies welcomed us warmly. But we couldn’t understand them.
President Roby went to find Takson (Tack-son) Pwach (sounds just like you would sound it out) who had been taught by the Elders and was committed to stop smoking. Elder Sears interviewed him and he said he had stopped some time ago. So we stayed to have his baptism.
Sam Roby’s mother went in the house and came out with a fancy embroidered skirt for Sister Duncan. She put it on over her other skirt. Later I wished I had taken a picture of Sue with Sister Roby.
The Elders suggested that we go down to the Church to wait for Sam to come and get us. It was about 1:30 and we had not had any lunch yet. The cold cereal we had eaten that morning was running out. So Sue got out an apple and we shared it while I took some pictures of the Chapel.
They took us on Sam’s little boat to the little island and we picked up President Walter and Kerfin Dein (Dain). The Ladies were already there cooking chicken over an open fire, burning palm leaves for fuel. That is how most of the cooking is done here. Takson Pwach climbed a coconut tree and cut down palm leaves and coconuts. I took movies of him doing it. Then they cut one open and gave it to me so I took it to Sister Duncan and got a movie of her drinking it. Then they spread the palm branches out on the ground and we sat on them instead of on the ground. We sang some hymns in Chuukese and President Roby called on President Herman Walter to give the Opening Prayer. Elder Sears gave a good talk on Baptism from the Book of Mormon. He speaks and reads Chuukese well. Then Elder Vankoman walked with Takson Pwach out into the ocean. President Roby and President Walter went out also as witnesses. They had to go out maybe 50 to 60 yards to get deep enough water. But the water was a perfectly clear blue and the different colors of the coral underneath were breathtakingly beautiful. There were rain squalls in the back ground and a cool breeze blowing. The Baptism went perfectly. I think that is the first baptism I have seen done in the ocean. I just glowed inside and I am sure others there did the same. What a spiritual experience that was for me. With the beautiful setting, and the spirit saying this man could be a branch president someday, I was touched very deeply in my heart. We are truly in the Islands of the Sea.
We had a closing song in Chuukese and I realized that President Roby was calling on me to give the Closing Prayer, when he asked me to bless the food also. My heart raced and I felt panic. I had not even considered him calling on me. I tried to calm myself and I stood to pray. I prayed in Chuukese. After I settled down some, it went much better. And I did remember to bless the food. The District Clerk, Herman Walter said again that we were the first Couple to learn their language.
The ladies brought Sue and I each a large plate of food and we said no thank you to one of them and shared a plate. We had no eating utensils as they never use them so we ate with our fingers. We ate Taro, Tapioca, cooked banana, rice and a chicken leg. Our meat was cooked very well. I took more pictures. It was getting late so we left about 4.
We stopped and dropped the Elders off at Romanum then headed home. A heavy rain storm came across and we could not see any land marks in front of us. For a while District Clerk, Herman Walter navigated by the island behind us, but it soon disappeared also. He slowed the boat down so he would not run into something or coral reefs near another island. When it cleared enough to see we were headed toward an island that we needed to go around. So he had to make almost a full left turn. It was about 5:10 when we arrived at the mooring place for the big boat. Then we had to load our things in the little boat and Kerfin poled us to the dock. Sister Duncan commented that he would do well in Venice as a Gondolier. It wasn’t raining and we walked to the truck. It was then 5:35 PM. Just after we got inside the truck it started raining and rained most of the way home. We washed up very well and then had supper. I offered to do all the clean up while Sue relaxed. She took me up on it and got her shower to get the salt spray off. I then got mine and that warm water with lots of soap felt sooooo good.
Sunday, we attended Church in Mwan, Sue helped a lady enter her family in and I conducted an YSA broadcast. I even used my Chuukese to call for the Opening Prayer. The sad part was that only 8 kids showed up and they were all too young, 14 to 17. We didn’t have one 18 and older show. So I sent in a report of 0 attending. I will let your Mom tell you about her helping the lady.
From mom: The church is still fairly young here. Often, no one is sure just how something should be done. Today a man showed dad his ordination certificate. It said he was ordained a priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Um…don’t think so! When I tried to register the sister on new.familysearch, it required a phone number or email address…she doesn’t have either. Finally the District president said we could use the District office phone number so we could get her registered. In helping her enter her information I found out that her husband decided to use his father’s FIRST name as his last name. Nothing was ever done to make it legal. Also, people take in other people’s children and raise them. Sometimes the child takes the new family’s name, or an auntie’s name, or they just create a new name for themselves. And they rarely know important dates, like birthdates, death dates, wedding dates. But it isn’t because they are stupid or anything. These truly are wonderful people, and they are trying very hard to live the gospel, but in their culture, data like that simply is not important. Until they want to go to the temple and receive their endowment and do work for their dead. THEN they need the info, and it is hard to get. I am really enjoying working with this sister. She is so sweet. If I were to move here, I think she and I would become best of friends. Tho she is younger than many of our children. Her oldest daughter is 15.
I really enjoyed the ride home on the boat yesterday. I am no longer the least bit uptight or concerned when we travel on the ocean. Yesterday I just enjoyed and soak up the sea, the sights, the smells, the wonder of it all. At the branch party, I really enjoyed watching the people. As the baptism meeting began, a storm moved in and the wind really blew hard. It got COLD! Well, not the ‘cold’ that we have in Wyoming, but it sure didn’t feel the least bit WARM!! The wind blew so hard I was afraid a coconut would fall and bonk someone on the head…people die of that!
At Sam Roby’s house, I was able to talk to his mother a bit in Chuukese, and she seemed very surprised that I could speak her language. I really like the skahtoe she gave me. We will get a pic of it and post it. And today I loved helping the sweet sister in Mwan with her family history. The more I associate with these Chuukese people, the more I like them. I’m so glad God called us to serve here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Zone P-day Activity

June 23, 2009 Tuesday Today has been a great day. We began with our usual study time. Then breakfast and we read the family site on the internet. Then language study. Then we got into our playclothes and went to Sapuk with the rest of the missionaries in this zone (all of this island, plus the 3 sets that serve on the outer islands). We all hiked up to the Japanese lighthouse. It was a great hike. We really enjoyed ourselves. The lighthouse was built years ago by the Japanese, but now it is deserted and partially ruined. It is a tourist attraction here on Chuuk. We have been wanting to go.
Anyway, one of the elders (an island elder from Tonga or Fiji or somewhere like that) brought along his ukelele. They got to playing and singing. It was lovely. We took lots of pics and even a movie of the boys singing. You might try googling "Chuuk Japanese Lighthouse" and see what you find. Then Chuck and I left early, since we had to teach in Mwan at 2 today. We got almost all the way down before the elders caught up with us. We drove home, grabbed a very quick bite, and very fast showers, and took off for Mwan.
In Mwan we taught the Temple Preparation class Lesson 4. The spirit was really obvious. A man was there who did not plan to be there. He had been working on the building (works for the FM group) and, for some strange reason, he walked in and sat down. He has very good English, so he translated for us. Now, it is very difficult to feel the spirit when teaching through a translator. But it wasn't difficult today! He got all choked up and couldn't speak. Then the others, realizing what was happening, got all choked up. So we asked them all if they had any feelings they wanted to tell about. Bro Joseph spoke first....a powerful testimony. Then his wife, then Branch President Matisima, then another sister that was there and then Sister Walter. There was much of wiping tears away. Wow! Really powerful. I think there are some very special people in that group. Some have been preparing for many, many years to get to the temple. It is soooo expensive for them. Plus they need passports, and plane tickets, and arrangements made a year in advance. We are hoping to go to the temple with them in August.
Then we drove back home, had a very quick bite to eat and Chuck left to go back to Mwan. Pres. Matisima had invited him to a 'men only' get together to celebrate Father's Day. Cookies and punch and visiting. So that is where he went. I am here, waiting for the elders to come and get baptismal clothing. Plus we have an email from Elder Wood's mother that contains pictures of her first grandchild (and Elder Wood's first nephew). So we will let him read the email and see the pics while he is here. He serves on Tonoas, and there isn't any type of internet there.
Last night we watched 9 of the videos that go with the Seminary Book of Mormon lessons. We are trying to select a few to translate into Chuukese, since so many of our teachers and most of the students do not have enough English understanding to get anything out of those movies. We are certain we want to translate the one about "Spiritual Crocodiles". Do you remember that one? Good, isn't it?
This coming Saturday I will be teaching at the Mechitiw branch RS activity Day. They want me to teach them how to make apple butter, using their Chuukese apples. I have NO idea how it will turn out, as I have never made it with Chuukese apples. We shall see.
You know, standing in the middle of the green lush jungle today, we could hear the elders still singing up at the lighthouse, we could hear the birds singing, and it was hushed and quiet. We really are blessed to be serving in an island paradise. Sure, the power goes out, there is garbage all over, the roads are worse than horrible, the shopping is very limited, but it IS STILL an island paradise. And the people here deserve to have the truth of God just as much as any other people in the world. Notice how often in the Book of Mormon they refer to the people on the "isles of the sea". God is very aware of these groups that are scattered from the House of Israel. And He has sent us here to serve them. I'm sure glad He did!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Our 44th Wedding Anniversary

The picture had some power lines in it and I sent it to Connie McIntosh and she took the lines out and sent it back. That is sunrise in Chuuk.

Our Anniversary day began slowly and ended nicely. We began with our usual Book of Mormon study. Ate the usual cold cereal with our boxed 'shelf milk' (mine was Silk) and then dug into our work. We worked on Seminary and Institute lists, rolls, and registration cards. I did a load of whites and hung them out back to dry and then worked on the paperwork some more. Elder Duncan drove down to Telecom to meet Branch President Sam Roby (who is also the seminary teacher on his island) to work on his paperwork with him.
We had some leftovers for lunch and did more paperwork and got ready to go out. Drove to the Post Office to mail a letter to Guam, and get our mail. We had decided to get our own post office box (since about 30 different families use Box 861 along with all the local missionaries and us), but the post office doesn't have any more boxes. Oh well, you can't buy what they don't have!
We drove down to the dock and caught the Mwan missionaries who were getting ready to get on the boat to Tonoas and Uman for missionary exchanges. We worked out some things with them, and then drove down to the Mwan chapel to visit with the District President. Had a good mtg with him. Then we drove back into town and shopped a bit. Then drove to High Tide restaurant for our anniversary dinner and they were closed for another hour. So we drove to Andersen Field and watched the kids play and race. We stayed in the truck and worked on language. Eventually the kids came over to the truck and started talking to us. So we rolled the windows down and had them help us with the language. It was a lot of fun.
At 6 pm we drove back to High Tide and got there just as they opened. We went in and ordered (we were the only customers there). I had sweet and sour pork with garlic rice and Elder Duncan had pulled pork Chuukese delight. As we ate, other customers came in. Island power went off and the backup light came on. After about 10 minutes island power resumed, but only for a few minutes. While we ate, island power went off 4 times. Here, that is very normal and totally accepted.
The 'salad' served with our meal was in a bowl that was as big around as the circle Elder Duncan makes with his middle finger and thumb. Seriously, that was the size of it. The salad was about 2 1/2 bites. Fresh salad makings are VERY hard to find here....even for the restaurants. The meal Elder Duncan wanted was not available tonight, that is also very common.
But we enjoyed our special day. Got a lot of good work done and still found time to 'celebrate' a bit. Now it's late and we are going to bed. Nite nite.
ps This is the rainy season and it didn't rain today! But it sure was hot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May update

Well, time for another update. It is early evening, Wednesday, May 20, 2009. Chuck has another migraine, so he is laying down.
Last Friday we went out with Merien Sisra to do some missionary ‘finding’. We stopped at the first place. No one was home. We drove to the next place. We were stopping to see Emmy, but Merien saw into the home next to Emmy’s and said “I know that man!” So we knocked on their door. Les Idol and his family were there. They had just flown in that morning (it was about 11:20 am at the time). They had been gone since last October.
This is a family that Elder and Sister Warner had been teaching before the Idols left. So, we visited for a short time and set up a time to return to teach them. They seemed very pleasant and eager to have us return. We all sat on the floor, as is customary here.
We left there and went next door to visit Emmy. Her husband is standing in the way of her being taught and being baptized. She seems to be afraid of him. He drinks a lot and uses drugs. She said we should come back on Sunday (her husband’s day off) so we could speak with him. We said we would and left. Drove to LeiSide store where Merien went in alone to see if the girl still worked there. She had just flown out to Guam that morning.
We drove to the next place. Couldn’t find a place to park the truck, so we pulled in behind another vehicle, and Elder Duncan stayed with the truck so he could move it when the driver of the other vehicle returned and wanted to get out. Merien and I walked up a hill to a house.
The woman invited us in to her home. This time there was a bit of furniture. The woman sat on a bed and I was given a chair. Merien sat on the floor. We visited a bit. The woman’s 3 sons were baptized some time ago, but all are inactive now. She agreed to ask her husband if we could come and talk to the family. We gave her our phone number and she said she would call.
Then we walked back down to the truck and drove on. At Merien’s suggestion, we pulled into a driveway behind a parked car. We parked the truck and got out to climb up the hill. Elder Duncan noticed something moving in the back of the parked car. He went and looked in. It was a HUGE live sea turtle, upside down. Two of its flippers were tied together. The turtle entirely filled the back of that station wagon.
We went up to the house on top of the hill but had no success there. Then we drove back to Mechitiw and dropped Merien off. It was a good and productive outing.
That night we taught Institute in Mechitiw. We did some scripture chasing and the kids enjoyed it.
Saturday I woke up feeling okay, but had diarrhea. As the diarrhea continued, I started feeling pretty lousy. Didn’t do much. Didn’t eat much. Saturday night I didn’t sleep well, as I was up using the bathroom a couple of times.
Sunday I did not feel well. We went to church and Elder Duncan and I sang with the two fulltime missionaries. We sang “Abide with me” and it went pretty well.
Emmy called to say her husband was in another village with family and he was drunk, so no need for us to come today. After that we went home and then drove to Mwan where we taught the last Marriage and Family Relations class and had a nice social afterwards. Drove home. I was so glad to be home. I had asked Heavenly Father to please stop the diarrhea until 5 pm, since we had to attend church and we had to teach that class. He did. The diarrhea returned at 5:17 pm. He sure is taking good care of me!
Monday Elder and Sister Zaugg flew in from Guam to teach the local priesthood leaders about Family History work. So we drove to Mwan to help them and attend their training. Island power was out, so the generator had to be started. It was noisy and made it hard to hear. They wanted to show a video, but the room was so light, you couldn’t see it. And so noisy you couldn’t hear it. That is just the way things are here. But they solved most of the problems and had the mtg. 4 Branch presidents and the Dist. President attended. And us. I was still feeling very weak and didn’t dare eat, as I didn’t want things inside me to get busy again.
When the mtg ended, we offered to take the Zauggs and their supervisor, Keiji, around to see the island. They accepted and we took off. Drove clear to Sapuk. Stopped at our apt to show them where we lived and let them use the bathroom. Then we drove back to Mwan to get their rental car. Then we all drove down to Blue Lagoon and had dinner there together. I ate a full meal and hoped it would settle in my tummy okay. We got home pretty late and tired. Then we got a phone call from one of the missionaries. The District Mtg was scheduled to be at our place Tuesday morning, and then we would be feeding the 8 elders lunch. The missionary told me that the off-island elders were in now and would like to join us tomorrow. I said we could do that.
So, Tuesday morning we started early. Our kitchen is small, and we were cooking for 14 big, strapping, starving elders. They arrived. We had a good District Meeting and then had a very good lunch. They ate and ate and ate. Those guys can really make food disappear in a hurry. But we had cooked up LOTS of food, so they got all they wanted. They left and we cleaned up. Whew!
Then we drove to Mechitiw to pick up Merien to go teach the Idols. Had a good mtg with them, and taught them the first lesson. They seemed interested and receptive, him more than her. We set an appt to return on Friday and teach them again. We also promised to drop by tomorrow with a Chuukese Book of Mormon. Then we stopped to see Angelise and Taifani and we met Steven and his family. It was evening now and the skeeters got a good meal from my ankles! But we got three more teaching appts set up.
Merien had one more contact she wanted to make, so she and I hiked up to a house looking for the woman she knew. (Elder Duncan was suffering with a migraine, so we left him in the truck.) Never found her, so we returned to the truck, dropped Merien off and came home.
So, we will be teaching the Idols lesson two and Taifani, Angelis and Steven the first later this week. Merien is very excited to take us out finding, but we really can’t spend as much time at it as she would like, as we have a lot of S&I work to do. S&I is our first and most important assignment. IF we have some free time after the S&I work is taken care of, we are to do missionary work. It is hard to know how to balance it.
Today we took the Book of Mormon to the Idols, went to the Post Office and received a package from Jon and Anna! Yippeee! Drove home. Worked on language and emails. Elder Duncan got another migraine and laid down for a while. Now it is dark, and it is suppertime. So I will close and go make supper.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hiking the jungle mountains to visit a Seminary teacher in Wichap on Weno Island. The two Missionaries were leading us to his place because there are no addresses to homes.

It was a lovely day for a hike, although we got caught in a short rain storm, but the family invited us in their home to help us stay dry.
From Chuuk in the Pacific Islands, Rananim! (means “Good day” or “Hello”) We are still having new adventures nearly everyday. From eating new foods to going to the outer islands, each day brings something new.
The work of the Lord is going well. We have been very busy trying to get ready for Seminary and Institute Graduation on June 13. Pouring over class rolls, trying to determine who will qualify for certificates of completion and who will get diplomas. Since we just arrived mid-March, this is a huge undertaking and we have put scores of hours into it so far.
We are teaching an Institute class every Friday evening. We enjoy the opportunity to work with the young people. All the students in our class are seminary age, but their seminary class went defunct for a couple of months while their teacher went to Guam for some surgery. So attending our weekly class helps them catch up a bit. Only one student can understand and speak English well. So he, (M-Four is his name) translates for the rest of the class. We wouldn’t be able to teach without his help.
The language learning is on hold for a while since we are working fulltime on the rolls and records. But we are anxious to get back to it. We still try to pray in Chuukese (we know God can understand us in any language…even very poor attempts at Chuukese).
We still plan to continue learning it so we can speak it and teach classes in Chuukese eventually.
We still teach the Marriage and Family Relations class…on Wed evenings in Mechitiw (the Branch we belong to) and Sunday afternoons in Mwan. We always have translators there to help us. We only have 3 more lessons to teach of the 16 in the course.
We think we might be asked to teach Temple Preparation after that, but no one has asked us yet.
Our District Conference is May 9-10, and Elder Duncan has been asked to teach the counselors in the Branch Presidencies and Sister Duncan has been asked to teach the Branch YW Presidencies. Our District has grown so much that we will be renting a gymnasium for the Sunday Meeting of Conference. The Chuuk District is leading the mission in baptisms so far this year.
Our trips over the water to the outer islands have been learning experiences for us. There is no electricity on the outer islands. There used to be, but isn’t now. No vehicles either. No actual ‘stores’. The people live off the land. Very quiet, charming, lovely.
We have been surprised by how rough the ride is on the ocean. So far, we have not traveled on a calm day. The seas have been mildly rough to quite rough. The first trip, the swells were 8-10 feet on the return trip; quite a ride in a 26 foot open outboard motorboat. We were pretty well worn out by the time we got back. We were wind-whipped and covered with salt-spray and really needed a shower. But in calmer seas it is exhilarating to speed across the turquoise green water, with lovely green islands in all directions.
We are learning a lot here. It is more than just helping the Seminary and Institute program. We are truly building and helping the Church to grow here. They all want to learn how to do things like the Lord has set it up and so they are eager to be taught. The Church has only been on the Chuuk islands for 30 years; so almost everyone is a convert. There are very few second generation leaders. The Youth are learning how it should be done and in 10 years many of them will be leaders in the Church. The Lord is preparing them so they will be ready. Seminary and Institute began in the fall of 2003 so we are ending the 6th year that they have had Seminary and Institute here. It is very hard to supervise here because only 3 of the 8 seminary teachers have a phone. Four of them live off island so we have to schedule a boat ride to go and talk to them. It costs $54.00 in the little boat and almost $96.00 in the big boat to go to Paata Island; so you don’t just run over and talk to them for a few minutes.

Elder and Sister Duncan at Blue Lagoon on the south tip of the island. We had a zone conference there.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A much-needed update

We have had so many FIRSTS! We hiked up into a high jungle clearing to visit and train a new seminary teacher. He and his wife and 3 children live in a lovely clearing, surrounded by so much greenery and flowers! They have a small home, about 7 by 9 feet. They live off the land and are usually outside. The home is used for sleeping and protection from storms. They are wonderful people. The children are adorable and they all seem very happy and healthy.
We met sitting outside on a mat, but when a storm came up, we all went to the house. It is tiny and humble, but very clean and nice inside. No funiture, but a small hammock-type bed for the infant.
We have traveled to 3 outer islands to train seminary teachers. Took the small boat (26 foot outboard) to Romanum and Uman. Went in the larger church missionary boat to Tonoas. THAT was an interesting experience, since we had no one with us that could speak English. So, once we landed on the island, we were on our own to find the church, the missionaries, and the seminary teacher. We felt like explorers! It's a good thing we had learned enough Chuukese to ask the locals a few simple questions! After the training session, some local kids got some coconuts for us and the missionaries opened them for us so we could drink the juice. Man! That was SO good!
We are learning Chuukese ways. We attended a Branch Family Home Evening, and that was fun. Twice, when attending RS on Sunday, Sue has been asked to teach. So she did. And Chuck taught Priesthood. We have learned to be ready for anything, anytime.
Elder and Sister Hopoate, Country Director, are coming in a few days to help us prepare for the Seminary and Institute Graduation in June. Elder Kinjo, the Area Director, Japan, will attend our graduation, so we need to make sure everything is well-planned.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another week on Chuuk

Last Saturday we attended the Branch RS birthday celebration. It was a nice, short program, but was all in Chuukese so we didn't understand much.
The meal was served, but no utensils. We were served first and we were unsure whether to just dig in with our fingers, or wait for the utensils. The other branch members were waiting for us to begin eating. I finally asked if there were forks. The girl seemed very surprised, but went and found ONE fork for us to share. There are no kitchens in these island chapels. The food was all prepared in the home of the Branch President and brought to the church in big plastic containers.
We ate and enjoyed the food: rice, turkey tails, chicken, oriental noodles and koolaid. When the women finished eating, someone began playing a ukelele and they all began singing. It was wonderful! Their lovely voices harmonizing, and everyone swaying back and forth to the music. They sang and sang and sang. I loved every minute of it.
The members seem to be pleased that we are trying to speak their language. We get frustrated when our old brains will not remember the new words. But we ARE progressing. And we try to use Chuukese whenever we can.
Our apt faces the sea and we get a nice breeze off the ocean. But it is still very hot and humid. Our temps usually begin at about 84 degrees at 6 am and reach a high of 98 in late afternoon. In Pohnpei we lived in our own house out in the jungle. We had no neighbors at all and usually heard just silence or sometimes some distant music.
Here we have lots of very close neighbors, so we hear crying babies, and people talking and vehicles all the time. But this apt is much nicer than the home we had in Pohnpei and we are happy here.
These people are much livelier than the Pohnpeians. But seem to have more of a temper too. But they smile alot and are very nice. It's no surprise that we are beginning to love them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Update on Chuuk

Our kids have asked some questions and so we thought we would post for everyone. We have been swamped here as we try to take over for Elder and Sister Warner. He was the District Clerk doing all the finances for all the Chuuk Islands. So for now I will be doing that also. There is so much to learn and none of the names are easy to remember. Oh, that is not correct, One Branch President is named Sam Roby. We love the people already. They are very warm and accepting of the new couple coming in. They gave Elder and Sister Warner a great send off. They really loved them for all they have done for them over the past 14 months. It was good for us to see that.
We get less rain on this island and therefore because it is their dry season things are quite dry now and water is not as available. Some of the families are carrying water in gallon jugs to sustain life. The roads are in pretty bad shape. Most of our driving is under 5 miles an hour. During the day there are a lot of cars on the road. The Warners said that there has been a tremendous increase in cars in just the 14 months they have lived here. The government has approved a large contract to improve roads over the next two years. So that will help a lot.
We taught the 3rd lesson last night to a woman that has a baptismal date set for April 4th. She has been attending church already. She was very touched and spoke of the feelings she had from the Spirit. It was emotionally good for us also.
We have been overwhelmed with all we need to do and will never recall all the things, but I guess others will help us along the way. The Lord always takes care of those who are really trying.
There is no road around the island like Pohnpei only a trail for about a 3rd of the way around the island. I will put a picture on when we get some time.
The shopping is more limited and the people live much closer together as it is a smaller island; about 4 by 6 miles we understand. So there isn't the dense jungle that we saw in Pohnpei. Maybe when we get out and about more we will see some like it.
There are 4 branches on 4 outer islands and it requires boat trips to visit them of at least a half hour on the boat and some of them and hour and a half.
On the plus side, from where we set typing this, I can see across the ocean and see 4 of the outer islands on the horizon. The temperature seems to be very comparable to Pohnpei, but the humidity is not as high because of no rain. There is a nice breeze blowing in the window beside me and it feels good. It is 86.7 degrees right now at 7:30 in the morning.
We still have much to learn and we will post more as we go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We are on Chuuk!

The flight was fine. We arrived at 3:11 pm Tues. Spent the afternoon trying to learn everything that Elder and Sister Warner wanted to teach us. Didn't sleep well (no big surprise there). Today we started early (before 6 am) and we have been on the run all day. Spent hours and hours with the Warners, went out into the jungle to meet people, and now Chuck is working on the District Clerk work. We are very happy with our apt. It is very much like a nice apt in the states. Very clean and modern. No lizards or bugs so far. And no dogs barking, pigs getting loose, or roosters crowing right outside our window. But it is very close to many other people, so we don't have the privacy we had on Pohnpei. Our responsibilities will be very different here. WE have SO MUCH to learn. Plus a new language!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday the 15th update

We taught our last 2 Institute classes on Tuesday, our last Seminary class at 4 PM on Saturday and 4 Temple Preparation Lessons today (which is Sunday the 15th). So we are done teaching on Pohnpei unless someone changes their mind about us leaving. We have Monday to pack and clean and finalize things in Kolonia. Then Tuesday we fly to Chuuk to start again.
We have talked to Elder Kuss, who is from Chuuk, and he has given us some pointers about the language and we have learned some words already. We will have to see how that goes. There are many islands there and there is a different language on each island. So it will be much harder to know what to learn.
We told the Lord that we would go anywhere He wanted and do whatever He wanted us to do there, so we are looking forward to this new adventure. We know a little bit about what our schedule will be on Chuuk and we will be VERY busy the first 2 weeks or so. We will post an update just as soon as we can, but it might not be until late March.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Well, we got all the lizards out of our house for over a week. But last Thurs morning when I opened the door to the back porch, a large lizard came dashing in and disappeared under the stove. So we knew we were hosting another lizard guest. The next evening, as I was standing in the dining room, I heard a "splat" at my feet, and there was the lizard....he had just fallen from the ceiling! He quickly scurried away.Then yesterday morning as we were getting ready for church, I was at the kitchen sink and I could hear a funny noise. Like a scuffling on wood. Suddenly the large lizard, with a smaller lizard in his mouth, dropped from the top of the kitchen cupboards and landed on the counter right beside me. Obviously, the two had been fighting and lost their footing. They separated and each scurried off in a different direction. Later that day Chuck caught the large lizard and escorted him out of the house. I wonder if we will have lizards in our apt in Chuuk?? Well, I'd rather have lizards than large ugly spiders!! Except, lizards leave their droppings all mice. Yuck!

Friday, March 6, 2009

We received an e-mail this morning confirming that we will be transferred to the Island of Chuuk (pronounced Chook) on the 15th of March. We have known about this for over a week, but President Dowdle asked us not to speak of it till he had a chance to visit the Island of Chuuk and talk to Elder and Sister Warner, the couplee there, about their move to Yap. We do not know what our new address will be yet, we will post it as soon as we know it.

We have suppected all along that there would be a change on Pohnpei. We had 2 couples here on Pohnpei. Elder Miller on Yap, had a heart problem and they had to go home to have a stint put in. So they have not had a couple Yap for a month. So to our surprise, the couple on Chucck, Warners, is being transferred to Yap and we will be going to Chuuk. We had guessed that it would be Elder and Sister Riding here on Pohnpei that might be going to Yap as they have been here for 8 months. But the Lord saw it differently.

So it looks like we will be learning another new language. Sue had about 150 words and phrases and I had maybe 120 that we could use. But that will all go by the wayside now and we will learn to speak Chuukese instead.

We have loved our time here on Pohnpei and have taken some great pictures to bring back memories in the future. But our 7 weeks Pohnpei will be a very short time of our 23 month mission.

We look forward to teaching the people in Chuuk and we know there are more native teachers there so we will also be doing inservice there for those teachers also.

We fly out on the 15th and will get to spend some time with Elder and Sister Warner before they fly out on the 17th. That will surely help us get our feet on the ground in Chuuk. So it is pack up for another airplane flight, but a new wonderful great adventure is awaiting us there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another week in Pohnpei

March 4, 2009 Wed.
I am taking a break from the studying and lesson preparation to type an update. We finally have the house pretty well fixed up and tight enough to keep most bugs, rats, and lizards out. We have screens and also have grating on two windows to keep the rats from chewing through the screens.
Actually we haven’t had a lizard or a cockroach, or a centipede in the house in over a week! We do have the little geckos from time to time, but they don’t bother us much. I just hate cleaning up their droppings on the table or counter or on the wall. Yuck! But they are sort of cute little creatures.
One of the landlord’s dogs had a litter of pups. All but one died. But we are having fun watching the little guy grow up. He is really cute. But all the dogs here have lots of fleas, so we keep our distance.
Last Sunday one of the landlord’s hogs got loose. The dogs chased it up the hill. We called the landlord to tell him and he brought a guy out to help him and they got the hog penned again. But the next morning he got out again. He is a large hog, about 2 yrs old. He came walking onto our veranda and tried to eat Chuck’s shoe that he had left out there. Dumb pig!
We have been busy with Seminary and Institute classes. We have had fun helping them learn how to dig into the scriptures and find principles and teachings. Chuck has used local visual aids, taken directly from the jungle around our house, to teach the concept of the Gentiles being GRAFTED into the House of Israel. We have been told that grafting is done here with the lemon trees, so it wasn’t a new concept for some of them. We are also teaching Temple Preparation classes at Kitti, Sapwalap, Uh, and Nett. In Nett, very few understand English, so teaching always requires a translator. That makes it hard to teach, and makes the lessons very long. Plus, we have no way of knowing if our teaching are understood.
We are on the District Speaking schedule now, so we speak in a different Branch on the 4th Sunday of each month.
So far, I am REALLY enjoying all the studying and lesson preparation. Plus the language study. It is so nice to be able to spend hours and hours everyday studying, the gospel, the scriptures, the language.
The temperatures do not vary much here. When we get up it is usually about 81 degrees. During the day it might get up to 88-89 degrees. When we go to bed, it is usually around 82-83 degrees. The rain is wonderful. We both love it. Sometimes it rains 8-12 times in one day. Other times we can go 3 days with no rain. Sometimes it just rains, and sometimes it is a storm, wind and all. Some rains are light and soft, but often the rain comes down with great velocity! Like we are under a waterfall! It is just amazing to us that so much rain can fall in such a short time. It drains away very quickly. Two days ago I (Sue) was driving home from Kolonia and the rain was coming down so hard that my windshield wipers just could not keep up with it, even on their fastest speed. I simply could not see anything. So I drove VERY slowly. Of course, here on the island, everyone drives very slowly. The road is narrow and windy, and there are people (LOTS of people) and dogs and chickens and sometimes pigs on the road all the time. In some places the road is only wide enough for one vehicle to get through.
We leave the windows open at home all the time. So we can hear the jungle noises. I love hearing the birds. There are no snakes here. And no predators. So we feel very safe, even when we went out exploring in the jungle.
The people here are wonderful. Very loving and kind and patient. And they are a happy people. The children are well-loved and well cared for. They all seem healthy and happy. Of course, just as in the states, there is poverty. But the jungle provides so many good things to eat that even the poorer folks can eat well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


One of the challenges of living here is buying groceries and such that are made in a foreign country. We bought a box of plastic wrap, but it was a foreign brand. Here are the instructions on the box: "Please press designation postition, open box the cover pulls up the length needed. To compress tightly a cover, cover cling film to side along the box last the teeth of a saw tears off. The usage pleases cover a cover behind." I'd love to know what nationality translated that to English. Can anyone tell me what that means??? By the way, the teeth do NOT cut the film AT ALL!!! We use scissors.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My third try seems to have let me post it. I really hope it is worth it to have it on here.
Sue wanted me to post this shot of me of my birthday gifts. I got a new Pohnpeian shirt, shorts and a machette. Then she wanted to take a picture. I tried to post it on the 19th but we lost our connection while I was up loading the picture so all I got was the date. So I will try again today; which is Sunday evening, 9 pm.
We had a very good Sabbath today. We attended the Sapwalap Branch. We were the only speakers in Sacrament Meeting there. We had been assigned to speak on Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching, which we did. Then we stayed and attended Sunday School and Priesthood and Relief Society, which were all in Pohnpeian. We have been working very hard on the language and found that we could understand a small amount of what was said. That made us happy!
We drove home and had 10 minutes for a quick sandwich, and then we drove to Uh…about a 10 minute drive. We were supposed to teach a Temple Preparation class there at 2 pm, but no one came except the missionaries who came to translate for us. So they worked with us on the language for about an hour. Then we drove home.
We ate a couple of cookies and headed out again, driving back down to Sapwalap to teach Temple Prep. We had 6 people there at the class. Five actively participated in the reading and asking questions. It was a very good class, but ran too long, as we had to wait while the English speaking locals explained the things we were teaching to the ones who could not understand us.
We got back home at 7 pm and had a light supper and worked on the lesson for this week’s Institute class. Then we spent a little time reading the Family sites, e-mail, and our blog. Now it is bedtime. Tomorrow we must go in to Kolonia to join with all the missionaries on the island to clean and vacuum and wax our vehicles in preparation for Zone conf which is Thurs. We will also do our shopping and pick up our mail while in town.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monday February 16, 2009

It is Monday evening. It’s been a good day. We shopped in town and found real, fresh TOMATOES and LETTUCE!! BIG surprise! So we bought one tomato and a head of lettuce. Came home and had real, American HAMBURGERS for lunch! Man! That tasted SOOOO GOOD! Even had some potato chips with our burgers (some foreign kind called Oishi, cheese flavored, not too bad) and fresh homemade lemonade. Man, it is sooo nice to eat something that familiar! Of course, we had no ketchup or mustard, but used Thousand Island dressing instead. And we had no hamburger buns, so used bread instead. Then we studied for a while. While I was studying in the office, I noticed a medium-sized lizard on the wall. I called Chuck in and we tried to chase it toward the air conditioner, hoping it would go out through the wall there, but instead it ran behind the dresser. So we gave up. Later I saw him again. This time Chuck brought the net in and attempted to grab him. He got hold of the lizard’s tail, which promptly came right off!! Poor lizard! Chuck caught him and headed to the door to release him outside. As he headed out he asked me to go get the tail. So I returned to the office and there on the floor was the tail….MOVING all over the place!! Wiggling and jumping around! I about died! We laughed. Chuck came back in and got the “still alive” tail and took it out with the lizard. I still can’t get over how funny that tail looked moving all over the place, unattached to the lizard! WEIRD!!Then we ate a light supper, since our lunch was so late. Had canned peaches and bread and butter and Chuck had a glass of milk. Then we each had two cookies. We worked on our language flashcards for a while. I got all 71 right, Chuck got 55 right. Now Chuck is making up more Permethrin to kill bugs and I am here typing. Today I got my talk ready for Sunday, and my institute lesson ready for Tuesday. Now I need to get started on the Seminary lesson for this week. Sometimes it is kinda confusing to be teaching institute from Galations and Seminary from Romans. Two weeks later we are again teaching Galations, but this time to the Seminary classes. It is hard to keep it all straight in our heads. Seminary goes straight through the New Testament, but Institute jumps around in no particular order. It just teaches concepts and principles and uses New Testament scriptures, as well as Book of Mormon scriptures and D&C too.Man! It has really rained today. Just started again…probably the 12th time it has rained today. And it really pours down HARD! We love it. The natives take it all in stride. They have lived with it all their lives. Tomorrow we will put up metal grating on two of our living room windows so we can keep them open at night and rats won’t get in. That sure will help cool down the house at night!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today, after over 2 weeks on the island we got the internet at our home on a dial-up connection. Our home is about 30 minutes from Kolonia on the East side of the island. We live between Uh and Sapwalap. Previous to today, we had to drive to town to connect to the internet.
We have had a mission car some and a Records Preservation car for other times, but so far not one assigned to us. So far it has just been a loaned car from someone that didn’t need it as badly as we did. They are working on something better for the future.
This Pohnpeian Island is absolutely beautiful. The amount of growth is staggering to a Wyoming Cowboy and his wife. Everything is green on both sides of very narrow roads and most of the time it is green over head while we are driving.
We are teaching 5 90-minute classes of Institute and Seminary each week and Temple Preparation Classes as well for 4 different Branches. We have loved being in their Branches on Sundays. We have attended 4 Branches for part of the Block each. They have no organ or piano, but sing the songs of Zion in Pohnpeian. We match our vowels to theirs and sing with them. They love it and so do we. They sing so beautifully.
We are learning the language as we go. We can say many things now and Sister Duncan is much better than I am already. The Sister Missionaries gave us about 150 flash cards to practice learning words and phrases.
We are very happy that we are here in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei and for the wonderful experiences we are having.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is actually the back of our house in the jungle. We are living in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei. We are the first LDS Missionary Couple to live in the jungle on this side of the Island. At present we are existing on Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, doing our laundry in a bucket, and taking cold showers because we have no hot water yet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

We are on Pohnpei and are loving it. We will not be living in the town of Kolonia; we will be out in the jungle about a third of the way around the island. The area is Madolenimw and we will teach in Uh, Sapwalop, Mand, and Kitti. We have met some wonderful people and the island is beautiful.
We will be on dial up internet out in the jungle so we will not be posting a lot on here. Our access to internet is very limited.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We are in Guam and waiting for a Senior Couples Conference on Monday and Tuesday. This is the view out our hotel window. This is Guam in all its glory. Everything smells wonderful as there are flowers everywhere. The humidity is high and the temperature gets up to about 86 each day. We went out walking at 6:30 this morning and it was very nice. We walked for an hour and a half just seeing the ocean roll up in waves. There is a reef out where the breakers end and we walked on the beach and watched the kids play in the water. The water is very warm to the touch and they were having a blast. But it had warmed by 8 when we got back to the hotel and so we were wet from the humitity. The shower felt very good.
We have 5 couples here now so we tend to do things together. They have given us a lot of advice that will help us do the Lord's work better. It is wonderful that we are getting to attend this confernce before we go to our island.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We are now in Guam and are waiting for a Senior Couples Conference on Monday and Tuesday. Then we fly to Pohnpei and begin our work

there. We are enjoying seeing some of the sites of World War II. It has been very informative.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We added this one so that you can see the cafeteria from the walkway outside and see how much snow we have received. I would guess it is 12 inches or more. The yellow is the lights that illuminate the walk way reflection on the snow. I took the shot at dusk with no flash so the snow would not be just bright white and dominate the picture.
We are enjoying our CES training and have prepared and taught inservice lessons already. We have one more day of classes and then we have completed all our training. But we do not leave for Guam until Monday the 12th. We are so anxious to get going; we are really looking forward to teaching on Pohnpei island.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

We are going here! This is the large map in the MTC and we are pointing to Pohnpei, Micronesia. We have completed the 2008 year in the MTC and we will spend the first 12 days of January 2009 here as well. Then we fly out to LA then to Hawaii, then to Guam. We will have 2 days of seminars there and then fly on to Pohnpei. We are so excited about this new phase of our life.